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Fashion law expert discusses work at Nike, LVMH

Maggie Rhoads
LVMH Chief Legal Officer Rodney Pratt and moderator Kathryn Chavez during the discussion Monday.

A fashion law expert and GW Law alum discussed his career working at Nike and luxury conglomerate Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton at the GW Law Jacob Burns Moot Court Room on Monday. 

LVMH Chief Legal Officer Rodney Pratt — who graduated from GW Law School in 2001 and worked at Nike in a variety of positions from 2011 to 2022 — said he has collaborated with celebrities in the sports and fashion worlds throughout his legal career. The Fashion Law Society hosted the conversation with moderator Kathryn Chavez, president of FLS and a first-year GW Law student.

Chavez said Monday’s programming was FLS’s debut event after the Student Bar Association Senate approved the creation of the organization in November. 

Before working at Nike and LVMH, Pratt said he worked for a “major” law firm in the District after graduating from GW’s Law School in 2001. He said he worked on mergers and acquisitions during his time with the law firm but was “miserable” for the eight years he worked there. Pratt said he applied for a job at Nike after being laid off from the law firm in 2009.

“I got laid off at a time where I thought I should’ve been up for partner,” Pratt said.

Pratt joined Nike in 2011 as Assistant General Counsel before moving to Converse, a Nike subsidiary, to serve as the Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary in 2014. He returned to Nike to serve as the VP at the Office of the General Counsel Operations, Innovation and Strategic Initiatives from 2021 to 2022.

Pratt said one of his favorite memories from his time at Nike was forming a close relationship with Julius Erving, more commonly known as Dr. J, who played for the Philadelphia 76ers from 1976 to 1987 before coaching the Tri-State in the BIG3. He said Dr. J invited him to a BIG3 basketball game and they, along with Pratt’s assistant and Dr. J’s wife, hung out at a hookah lounge after the game.

“I grew up outside of Philly, a huge Dr. J fan,” Pratt said. “I got to develop a personal relationship with Dr. J.”

Pratt said most people dream of working for an “iconic” company like Nike but that he left Nike because his colleagues’ visions were “narrowly focused” while he had a broader vision of being “relevant globally.” 

He said when he informed his supervisors that he planned to leave Nike in 2022, they said not too many people leave Nike and “level up.”

In 2022, Pratt was appointed chief legal officer of LVMH — a multinational holding company of brands like Christian Dior, Marc Jobs, Sephora and Tiffany & Co. 

He said his position includes working with celebrities who collaborate with any of the 75 houses under LVMH and supervising a variety of projects, like working with a celebrity — who he did not name — for the 2024 Super Bowl. 

“With fashion weeks all around the world, we have to move talent around whether it’s entertainers, performers or even models if they’re coming from overseas,” Pratt said. “They have to be authorized to work in these states.”

Pratt said working a legal position at Nike and LVMH is different from working at a law firm, which is more focused on monetary influx, while his job now with LVMH involves more “interpersonal” skills, like being able to influence decisions.

“When you speak do people listen? Are you able to get people to follow a path?” Pratt said. “And are you able to do it in a way where your fingerprints aren’t over that decision? When you’re just happy that a solution was made, whether or not you get credit, is irrelevant.”

Pratt, one of the highest-ranking Black employees at LVMH, also said he has brought his perspective as a Black man to his meetings at Nike and LVMH because he said Black people historically haven’t had a “seat at the table” in corporate settings. He said finding the confidence to share his perspective as a Black man in a legal position took time and included risks. 

“I bring my Black experiences to the table every day, every decision that I make,” Pratt said.

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